How long does Ambien stay in your system?

Ambien stays in your system and is detected by urine sceens 1-2 days after use. But Ambien can be detected in hair samples weeks after ingestion. More on the detection window for Ambien here.

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Reviewed by: Dr. Dili Gonzalez, M.D.

Ambien is a quick-acting drug that is absorbed completely into the body within hours.

Although Ambien can be detected on a urine screen for a couple of days, hair sample drug screens can detect Ambien use, frequency of use and dosing quantities for weeks or months after you take Ambien.  Those who get high on Ambien increase likelihood of addiction.  But if you are using Ambien as prescribed, Ambien drug tests should test negative if you are within therapeutic doses (take a note or prescription to the supervising Medical Officer) . More on Ambien detection here, plus a section at the end for your Ambien questions.

Main Ambien uses

Ambien is prescribed to help people who struggle to fall asleep or stay asleep. Ambien works by slowing activity in the brain, causing drowsiness and allowing sleep. Because Ambien causes such extreme sleepiness, it’s not a very good medication for conditions other than sleep disorders.

The main downside to Ambien is the fact that users who can’t get a full 7-8 hours of sleep after taking it will be drowsy and sometimes experience memory problems. A small percentage of people will act out daily activities in their sleep, such as walking around, preparing food, having sex, or driving a car. Obviously, this can be dangerous.

How do you take Ambien?

Ambien comes in tablet form, sometimes as an extended-release medication. Sometimes Ambien also taken as a sublingual (under the tongue) tablet. It’s even available as a spray which is sprayed over the surface of the tongue and absorbed through the mouth. Ambien is very quick-acting in all of these forms.

Peak levels and half life of Ambien

Ambien is absorbed through the GI tract rapidly and completely. The peak level of Ambien, 200 ng/mL, is reached about 30 minutes after taking a normal dose of 20 mg. Ambien peak time for effects, is between 1.5-2 hours, and up to 4 hours for Ambien CR. Typically, the half life of Ambien is about 2 hours in healthy adults. In older patients and those with cirrhosis, the half life can be doubled, taking as long as 4 hours.

Ambien drug testing: How long does Ambien stay in the body?

Because of Ambien’s quick absorption into the body, and short half life, it doesn’t stay in the blood long. Urine testing can detect Ambien for a few days after taking the medication, but for exposure further in the past, hair testing is the best way to detect Ambien.

How long does Ambien stay in hair?

A single dose of Ambien can be detected in hair up to five weeks after exposure. Concentrations range from 1.8 to 9.8 pg/mg. This is good news in criminal cases, where Ambien may be used to facilitate an assault.

How long does Ambien stay in urine?

While Ambien won’t be detected in a standard urine screen, it can be detected in urine using specialized tests. Peak concentrations of Ambien show up about 12 hours after taking Ambien, but can be detected for up to 60 hours after ingestion.

Ambien and addiction

Can you get addicted to Ambien CR or Ambien? Yes. Ambien can be addictive if taken for longer than 2 weeks. People will very quickly develop a tolerance for the drug and will be unable to get the same therapeutic effects from the medication after 2 weeks of continuous use. There’s also the risk of developing a physical dependence on the drug. Ambien can’t be stopped abruptly after long-term use because of this. However, tolerance and withdrawal alone do not indicate Ambien addiction. Cases of Ambien addiction are also accompanied by drug craving, or obsessive thinking of drug use despite negative life consequences.

Problems with Ambien?

If you’re struggling with an Ambien dependence or addition, there is help available for you. A doctor can help you with gradually reducing your dose so that you can safely and more easily quit. They can also refer you to support groups and therapists, if you’re having trouble staying clean.

Ambien in your system questions

Do you have more questions about Ambien in your system? Please let us know. We are happy to answer your questions about all types of Ambien use. And we try to reply to all legitimate questions with a personal and prompt response. We are here to help!

Reference sources: PubMed: Windows of detection of zolpidem in urine and hair: application to two drug facilitated sexual assaults
TOXNET: Zolpidem Tartrate

MedlinePlus: Zolpidem
About the author
Lee Weber is a published author, medical writer, and woman in long-term recovery from addiction. Her latest book, The Definitive Guide to Addiction Interventions is set to reach university bookstores in early 2019.
Medical Reviewers
Dr. Dili Gonzalez, M.D. is a general surgeon practicing women's focused medici...

All of the information on this page has been reviewed and verified by a licensed medical professional.

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